Wednesday, December 05, 2012


Variations of the word fetch have been one of the topics of conversation on my last two programs. First, the word fetching, meaning attractive and alluring, came up. It derived from the idea of fetching—grabbing or snaring something. Beauty will grab one’s attention.

The following Tuesday, Liz from Sutton’s Bay and George from Petoskey contributed nautical meanings of the word. Liz mentioned that it is an act of tacking. George pointed out that it also refers to the distance that waves can travel continuously without obstruction.

There are other meanings for fetch as a noun. In fact, there are three unconnected nouns spelled identically.

Fetch 1 includes the meanings covered above, and several others:
  • the act of bringing from a distance
  • a sweeping motion
  • a trick or stratagem
  • a sigh or difficulty in breathing
  • a game bird decoy
  • as fetch-about, an evasive wordiness, a circumlocution
Fetch 2 meant the apparition, double, or wraith of a living person. If it appears to you in the morning, it means long life. If it appears in the evening, don’t buy unripened fruit; you’ll never get to eat it.

Fetch 3 was a variant of fish—not the finny creature, but a long piece of hard wood used to strengthen or brace a mast or spar.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition
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